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SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON THE ADVANTAGES WE MA Y 
HOPE TO DERIVE FROM EDUCATION. 

BY WILLIAM KINGSFORD, LL.D., F.K.S.(C.), OTTAWA. 

It must generally be admitted that those who desire to give a 
good education to their own children, or to young relatives depend- 
ent on them, are guided by some theory as to the object they have 
in view. It may not in their own mind always be capable of defini- 
tion, and the hope they form may be vague and wanting in preci- 
sion. The feeling, however, whatever it may be, has a recognized 
activity; hence I humbly conceive that an inquiry into its char- 
acter may enable us to place it in a somewhat concrv te form; 
moreover, that it will not be unacceptable to those on whom the 
obligation is entailed. 

If the intent be to assure the child's future, it becomes a duty 
to examine into the character of the direction to be given to the 
young mind, that this hoped-for result may b; 1 attained; and it is by 
no means clear that there will be a general acceptance of any posi- 
tive definition of that suggestive w r ord, success. The estimate of it 
must vary in the ratio of the consideration given to the moral or 
material results desired. Some may regard the acquisition of 
wealth as the first object in life. Money will purchase much, but 
it cannot be said that its power is unlimited. The most valuable 
acquisition it can confer undoubtedly is independence of conduct, 
and that it will extend liberty of action; not always possible with 
men struggling for a livelihood. It is easy to conceive the strong 
desire to obtain this independence, apart from any craving for 
luxury, and free from the desire of being reputed to be wealthy, 
with the status it confers. There may be many who inculcate the 
doctrine of the all-potentiality of money, but it cannot be said to 
play an admitted part in any system of teaching. Of the same 
character is the desire that the youth may rise to a high position 
in his career, for there are prizes in every calling, and fond parents 
hope to see their child attam distinction, whatever vocation he 
mav follow. 

With these aspirations there is a wholesome fear of the evil 
< onsequences to which ignorance can lead. We are not wanting in 
examples of the extent it brutalizes the individual, and of its < i\ a- 



tion of a class dangerous to the well-being of the state, to be duly 
guarded against with continual watchfulness. It has also its 
cc-mic side, when, if free from guilt and from endless evil conse- 
quences, it casts ridicule on those afflicted with it. A story is told 
of a baronet utterly uneducated, whose estate lay in the neighbour- 
hood of a battle ground renowned since the Wars of the Roses. Late 
Jn life he resolved to be presented at Court. George III., who fol- 
lowed the rule of making some civil remark to every person who 
attended his levee for the first time, found a difficulty in selecting 
-a speciality in the baronet's career for a topic of personal comment, 
so he congratulated him on the historic associations of his estate 
as being near the scene of a renowned battle. The baronet was 
surprised by the remark. Finally he stammered out, " It is true, 
your Majesty, that I did have a few rounds with the blacksmith, 
fcut I am surprised the fact should be known to your Majesty." 

We may smile at the story, let us profit by its teaching and 
cultivate the judgment and intelligence to avoid such an exhibi- 
tion, An unhappy incident of this character might mar a career 
from which much was hoped, and create a false impression only to 
be effaced by careful effort. 

We cannot fail early to learn the vastness of the field of 
modern art, science and literature, in which as a whole we can 
attain but little more, than partial and elementary knowledge. 
We may see the plain widely extended before us, but how few are 
nble to pass onward to any extent on its ample space. As we 
advance forward towards the goal we desire to reach, we soon learn 
that it is only by continuous movement we can accomplish the 
journey to excellence and prominence in any one branch of learn- 
ing. What really can we know of many subjects beyond their first 
principles and mere elementary facts? Whatever the training 
we pass through, and however efficient the aids we receive in our 
studies, we must be all more or less self-educated. The difference 
lies in the start made in life's race; the progress we may achieve 
in our endeavour to reach the goal is really dependent on our own 
effort. It is by our own industry alone that the problem lying be- 
fore us for solution can be mastered. 

One of the objections urged against the study of the classics is 
the limited progress made by the schoolboy, and that unless con- 
tinued in mature life, from the insufficiency of the knowledge ob- 
tained, is of no value. It must be extremely limited for this criti- 
cism to be accepted. The boy at least learns the abstract laws 



and structure of grammar, and gains sonic acquaintance with tin- 
history and civilization of antiquity. Is it diiTcrcnt in any oilier 
pursuit'/ in abstract mathematics, in chemistry, or in th/ study 
of any of the economic sciences that have advanced human hap- 
piness and civilization? What proficiency under the conditions 
named are we able to attain beyond mastering some main facts? 
The first heights of a range of hills, seen from the plain below, 
stand out to us as the attainable object of our journey; when they 
have been gained they are discovered to be only a series of succes- 
sive elevations rising above us, which, one by one, have to be sur- 
mounted before the summit is reached. Equally in the pursuit of 
knowledge; in no long period we are taught how illimitable is the 
field before us. 

It is not immediately that a boy can learn the books of Euclid 
that are read; but when mastered, I put it to any mathematician, 
if anything more than a trifling advance has been made in a long 
and difficult study. It was the tradition of a former time that 
mathematics expanded the reasoning faculties, and the study of 
them was commended as a means of mental discipline. This view 
has passed away. If we admit the testimony of ancient and 
modern thinkers, no studies tend to cultivate a smaller number of 
the faculties, or in a more partial or feeble manner. I could mul- 
tiply examples of this view expressed by men eminent in the 
world's history. I will confine myself to d'Alembert and Des- 
cartes. The former said of the study that it only made straight 
the minds without a bias, and only dried up and chilled natures 
already prepared for the operation. Descartes wrote that he was 
anxious not to lose any more of his time in the barren operation oi 
geometry and arithmetic studies w r hich never lead to anything im- 
portant. Voltaire tells us, j'ai toujo^rs remarque que ta geometric 
laisse I' esprit on ellc le trotive. It is not to be denied that much 
ingenuity is required in the higher mathematics, such as in the 
integration of a complicated deferential; an exercise of knowledge 
and judgment, only attainable by study and perseverance. The 
operation, however, is nothing more than the reduction of an equa- 
tion to greater simplicity, and I cannot recognize any operation of 
reason, or any mental training beyond the exercise of patience and 
diligence. Moreover, when the result has been reached, it is simply 
the means to an end: the creation of a. formula applicable to me- 
chanics or astronomy. In the former to determine the force 
required to meet a strain; in the latter to admit of the calculation 



of the movement of heavenly bodies; a science essential to the 
architect, the engineer, the electrician and the astronomer. I refer 
those who desire to examine into the view I express to the kk Dis- 
cussions on Literature and Philosophy," by Sir William Hamilton. 

The same remark applies to the physical sciences, whether it 
be chemistry, geology, electricity, indeed to any section of physics. 
The interval is wide between the incidental study of any branch, 
and concentrated undivided attention in its acquirement. The 
former only aims at a general superficial acquaintance with facts 
and principles, in itself desirable and worthy of consideration, for 
it saves us from making ourselves ridiculous, and enables us to 
understand new inventions and discoveries. What can we learn 
of chemistry, except in a general way, without constant experi- 
ments with stills and retorts, the use of delicate instruments for 
analysis, and the pneumatic trough for the test of gases ; indeed 
even a moderate knowledge of chemistry calls for the work of 
years in a laboratory. The superficial information we obtain from 
books we soon forget, and all that we commit to memory relative 
to symbols, is only remembered by those with whom it is a duty to 
bear them constantly in mind. Nevertheless it is our duty to 
know something of chemistry without the desire of becoming 
chemists. In the same way minute and precise knowledge relative 
to geology, mineralogy, electricity is only possible when we make 
some one study the leading subject of investigation. Can \ve hope 
to do more in any case than master the leading facts and charac- 
teristics of the several sciences we superficially investigate? 

How can it be otherwise if the men w r ho attain eminence con- 
centrate their attention on one branch only? There is such a sub- 
division of labour, so constant an examination of the codified truths, 
such nice and delicate distinctions, possibly slight in themselves, 
but on which important theories depend, that it is only by con- 
stant study and examination that the truth is to be had. In 
modern scientific work, the "good all round man" is simply accept- 
able in the circle of mediocrity. He may shine in an after-dinner 
conversation, and, with those who know a subject superficially, may 
pass for erudite; but with abler critics his reputation is indeed 
slight. The French tell us that in the kingdom of the blind the 
one-eyed are kings, Dan* Ic royaume des arc 11 flies lex Itorr/ncs swit 
ro/.s-. In modern life, to succeed in the science we profess, we 
require both eyes, and the use of every faculty. 



On this point I will ask, whether in the high schools jincl uni- 
versities we are not introducing too many subjects, and thus dissi 
pate the atti-ntion of the student in place of concentrating it upon 
the choice he should make of a limited number; the studies enforced 
having little influence on the formation of character. There is a 
tendency to impart a superficial knowledge of a multiplicity of sub- 
jects, tach one of which to be thoroughly mastered demands many 
years of patient study. Are we justified in devoting the first years 
of impressionable youth to this diversified ordeal? Is it not rather 
our duty to inculcate the belief that knowledge can only be attained 
by persistent effort in one direction. You may look through the 
records of literature, art, science and political life; you may probe 
the lives of those who have attained eminence, I care not what the 
career has been, you will find that success in each case was not 
attributable to imperfect, uncertain, feverish, dissipated effort, but 
to careful, conscientious study directed within the acquirement by 
which reputation has been gained. 

I am afraid that this is not the common view. The modern 
curriculum embraces a multitude of subjects, even the narrative of 
which is bewildering. 

We may recall the advertisement of the immortal Squeers in 
Nicholas Nickleby. 

"Youth are boarded, clothed, booked, furnished with pocket-money, pro- 
vided with all necessaries, instructed in all languages, living and dead, mathe- 
matics, orthography, geometry, astronomy, trigonometry, the use of the globes, 
algebra, single stick (if required), writing, arithmetic, fortification, and every 
other branch of classical literature. Terms : Twenty guineas per annum. No 
extras, no vacation, and diet unparalleled." 

This diversity, however, is by no means antagonistic to the 
views of the class, who, rejecting classics and modern languages 
as the studies best adapted to form the mind, would substitute the 
sciences for the inculcation of mental discipline. We cannot, how- 
ever, adduce the influence that science has exercised on civiliza- 
tion and personal comfort, with its ramifications and beneficent 
effects, as a criterion of the moral benefit to be inculcated by the 
study so advocated. Any system of education that would neglect 
such consideration would be strangely imperfect. It was the fault 
in the teaching of the last, and the early years of this century. It 
is absolutely necessary that we obtain a fair knowledge of the 
principles and laws by which natural phenomena in the application 
of science are controlled; but this acquaintance with every day 



facts is widely different from the minute and extended investiga- 
tions, conducted as if it were the pursuit of an attainment to form 
the main labour of after life. 

It cannot be gainsaid that any one science consists of a myriad 
of cumulative inter-dependent facts from which generalizations are 
drawn to admit of nomenclature, classification, and order, induc- 
tively forming the principles by which any science is governed. 
Essentially it is the case in geology ; palaentology is above all 
other of its branches dependent on minute differences of species. 
We may recollect " The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," by Oliver 
Wendell Holmes, who tells us of the professor who had devoted 
the main years of his life to the special study of a species of the 
beetle. We have to-day men who are mentioned as author- 
ities of the species of the tfrilobite, and who define the classification 
of the poriferae, known as the common sponge. 

This minute study is essential in the determination of gee lo- 
gical epochs, the relative age in the formations of the earth's 
genesis, as a guide to practical husbandry; but this technical 
minuteness can have no influence on general education. In this 
respect I conceive that it is unwise to do more than attempt to im- 
plant the cardinal facts and the general principles which, to a cer 
tain extent, can be mastered by ordinary industry. 

Undoubtedly there is a great difference in the mental consti- 
tution of students, and their capacity for learning. No fallacy is 
so patent as the declaration that all men are born equal. Borne 
are highly favoured in appearance and disposition. In a brv city 
th consequence of our civilization is, that the majority of its deni- 
zens must toil and moil,' and the few be rich and prosperous. We also 
differ in the objects individually we desire to attain; but in this 
inequality we find the incentive to progress, and the influences by 
which civilization is advanced, for the one active principle pre- 
vails, we aim to attain that which we do not possess. Johnson 
laughed at the idea of any one writing a book, except for some 
reward. The man in want of money has its acquisition in view. 
Those in the enjoyment of ample means seek for honour and dis- 
tinction. We cannot hope to find in this world the happy valley 
of peace and content, where no wish is unsatisfied and want un- 
known. Who can read unmoved Johnson's address to those " who 
listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and pursue with 
eagerness the phantoms of hope, who expect that age will perform 



the promises of youlli, and the deficiencies of Hie present <l;iy will 
IK' supplied by the morrow/' In a few words, it is a chapter of des- 
pondency and disappointment. 

I believe 1 that it is generally conceded, that whatever the; in- 
equalities of life, the means of happiness are equally extended: 
that is t!o say, that it lies in the grasp of all who seek to obtain it 
by prudence, rectitude and self-denial; that we are less dependent 
on external circumstances than many suppose. It has been said 
that a man is what he knoweth. Is it not more correct to say that 
a man is what he wanteth; so much is artificial in modern civil- 
ization that we learn to entertain fanciful requirements. It is 
difficult to see how it can be otherwise with the incitements to com- 
fort and ease which science furnishes. 

In all the changes in the mode of life during the last seventy 
years, in the improvements of material comfort in every direction, 
with the extraordinary effect of the introduction of railways, which 
have worked a revolution in modern thc.ught scarcely inferior to the 
impetus given by printing, and with the general dissemination of 
education in all classes, with all this, I humbly conceive that the 
student of history will find the main characteristics of hnmonity to 
be the same to-day as we read of them in Herodotus. We may 
trace in the early records the same varied panorama of passion, 
motive, patriotism, cruelty, self-interest and abnegation, with ex- 
amples of that indescribable fascination which never fails to 
attract, and of that ruggedness of manner which so constantly 
repels, as we to-day experience in the intercourse with our fellow's. 
We meet much in the study of the past to colour the theories we 
may form of human life. The improvement in morals, manners and 
attainments visible in our observation of this century cannot be 
referred to all classes. The imperishable works of ancient litera- 
ture remain to betoken the highest genius, the most subtle origin- 
ality, a marvellous knowledge of the human heart, set forth in an 
energetic and most perfect form of expression; works which have 
outlived twenty centuries. The improvement most discernible is 
to be traced in the attainments, the manners, habits and tastes of 
the humbler classes. The Roman spectators who crowded to the 
circus to witness the Christian overcome in the struggle with some 
wild, savage beast, and torn to pieces, or who shrieked out applause 
during the combat of gladiators when the fate of the vanquished 
depended on the upturm d thumbs of the excited crowd, as Byron 



has written, slaughtered to make a Roman holiday, from their 
standing point could not recognize that there was hard-hearted 
cruelty or inhumanity in their nature. In their view they were 
present at a legalized ordinary amusement. In their hard code 
suicide was looked upon as the legitimate relief from misery. The 
reader of Livy may recollect the last Macedonian king, Perseus, 
imploring his conqueror, ^Emilius Paulus, not to lead him in 
triumph, and receiving the reply that the matter was in his own 
hands. 

Now-a-days we look sternly on amusements disgraced by 
brutality. We legislate against cock-fighting and dog fights. 
Bull-baiting has long been forbidden by law. The prize ring, how- 
ever, although illegal, retains its supporters, who, if not numer- 
ous, are certainly noisy. 

It seems to me that in the examination I am attempting so 
imperfectly to make of the results we hope to effect in the educa- 
tion of our children, or, as my contemporaries would say of our 
grandchildren, it is not possible to pass unnoticed the considera- 
tion of all that can be effected by home influences. How much lies 
in the power of the mother, or the female connection who supplies 
her place! Indeed it is not possible to overestimate al- tint can 
be effected by this wise and fostering care. Al. de Q.uinc.ey in his 
essay on Shakespeare lias speculated upon what Shakespeare's 
mother must have been. Mary, the daughter of Robert Arden, of 
Wellingcote, of one of the most ancient families in Warwickshire, 
which Dugdale tells us can be traced for six centuries from the 
days of Edward the Confessor. Mary Arden Ins Charles Knight 
says, the name breathes poetry. Her position in the county gives 
an assurance of the worth and station of the Shakespeare family, 
and sets at naught many of the absurd myths that have entwined 
themselves around the supreme and universal excellence of her 
son. To my mind, in the scenes with the Queen in Hamlet, then 1 is 
a deference shown by the son to the mother, in spite of her vices, 
which suggests Shakespeare's recollections of the happiness of his 
own young years. 

By these home influences the child's mind can be moulded in 
the qualities of gentleness, of thoughtfulness of others, and with 
sympathy with what is good. When we have had the happiness to 
receive this teaching, the effect never wholly leaves us, whatever 
follies as we advance in life we mav commit. 



May I be permitted to express the hope that those present who 
have responsibilities of this character will ponder over my humble 
words, and consider the extent that the future of those dependent 
on them may be moulded to good by their precept and example. 

It may be inferred from what I have said that in my poor 
judgment, neither the study of mathematics nor of the sciences can 
be recognized as the surest means of training, forming and develop- 
ing the young mind; that in their extended study they must be 
regarded as technical, to be followed with the design of fitting a 
student for a professional career. There will ever be two schools 
advocating different theories of education; the one the practical; 
the other, for want of a better word, may be called the philosophi- 
cal, in the etymological meaning of the word; the love of wisdom. 
The former assumes that all teaching is preparatory for active in- 
tercourse with the world in the state of life to be followed. The 
second keeps in primary prominence the development of the moral 
being; the effort to endow it with fixed principles, to en-ate a 
standard of duty, to impregnate the young mind with sentiments 
of honour, truth and duty. 

It would be absurd, as it would be unjust, to deny that these 
views have no place in practical education, and that the advocates 
of this system, when affirming as a primary principle that nothing 
should be learned but what may prove useful, neglect all moral 
training. Indeed they contend that it fully finds place in their 
system; but, that such is the competition in every avenue of pro- 
gress that in order to fit the youth successfully to struggle with 
his competitors, it is necessary to gain the ability of doing so at as 
early a period of his life as possible. This argument is met by the 
objection that this peculiar training engenders much thought of 
self, that its tendency may make a man expert in a peculiar walk 
of life, but is not elevating in a moral point of view. 

Nor is there accord among those who adopt the opposite theory 
that the greater advantage is attainable from the study of lan- 
guages. The advocates of this view are divided on the expediency 
of- prominence being given to the ancient over modern languages. 
Here we meet the practical argument that Latin and Greek, in 
whatever light they may be regarded as accomplishments, are use- 
less in our intercourse with the world, while modern languages 
really prove of daily utility. 

I have spoken of the limit of attainment in the general know- 
ledge which a boy in the ordinary course of education may reach 
in the few years of his school novitiate. It is the common experi- 



10 

ence, unless with those endowed with rare ability, to> permit of 
exceptional progress. It is stated of the late Lord Leighton that 
his father remarked to Powers, the sculptor, that after much hesi- 
tation he had at length consented to make his son an artist. 
Powers at once interrupted him by replying " that, nature has done 
for you." This illustration sustains the view that those only 
gifted with genius and great powers can reach the first rank of the 
calling they embrace. Indeed the most able and conscientious teach- 
er can do little more than trace for us the path we should follow: it 
depends on our own abnegation and industry how far we advance 
upon it. I venture to express the opinion that in no one pursuit is 
the fact more apparent than in the study of a modern language. 
There is hardly anything so special. So many considerations are 
embraced, grammar, idiom, the knowledge of the words and phrases 
in use, the tournure of the language, the genders, the pronuncia- 
tion, both of great importance, for a fault in either direction may 
lead to a sad faux pas- I recollect once remarking to a young girl 
who, I was given to understand, knew French perfectly, " Vous 
parlez done Francnis, mademoiselle." Her intention was to reply 
" un peu" she said " un pou" for the meaning of which I refer you 
to the dictionary. 

Necessarily there are degrees of education enforced by circum- 
stances. If the boy, from family exigencies, is destined at an early 
age to gain his own bread, the time at his disposal will admit only 
of his learning reading, writing and arithmetic as they are now 
sometimes spoken of as the three R's. This teaching is all that is 
possible with what incidental instruction can be given in general 
history, and in the principles of applied science. Where no such 
sacrifice is required, in my poor opinion, the study of the ancient 
languages should form the basis of education: Latin preceding 
Greek, the cultivation of which must depend on time and opportu- 
nity. Even a moderate knowledge of the former language, and I 
admit such is the general result in ordinary cases, tends more than 
any other form of knowledge to discipline the mind. From the 
structure of these languages and the strict laws of grammar a 
logical habit of thought is called forth, and a key to the grammar 
of all modern languages is gained by the study. Likewise the 
history of Greece and Rome encourages generous sympathies with 
the student, for it is replete with examples of patriotism, self- 
sacrifice, courage and devotion to duty ; conduct never recorded 
but with praise. While vice, cruelty, treachery, meanness, false- 



11 

hood and tyranny are mentioned with detestation. Equally il in- 
culcates the love of truth, the foster-mother of every virtue. That 
sense of right and of duty, which, as Socrates tells Crito, is a voice 
I seem to hear as the coryphantes hear the sound of flutes with 
the resound of the echo, that nothing else can be heard. 
No one will dispute that the study confers purity of style and 
correctness of taste. Is it not something to speak and write our 
noble language with simplicity, force and correctness so that we 
are never misunderstood, and are able to express our thoughts with 
vigour and subtle emphasis? To command attention without affec- 
tation, to avoid the effort when artifice is apparent in every 
sentence? To learn to imitate the language we find in the writings 
of Goldsmith, of Macaulay, Jeffery, Sydney Smith and de Quincey. 
There must be a groundwork for every class of information, and 
what is essential is the creation of a core of sound knowledge, 
around which is to be coiled the technical attainments by which we 
are to gain our bread. 

Parents must not suppose that a schoolboy leaves the sixth 
form with much more than a general knowledge of the ancient 
languages. He does not in the allotted time become a professional 
scholar, such as we read of three centuries back, when Latin was 
the common medium of correspondence; which produced men of 
the type of Erasmus, Luther, Roger Ascham, or Milton; in modern 
times as Bentley ; or who possess the knowledge of Greek of Porson 
Jowett or Lowe (Lord Sherbrooke), of whom hereafter I have to 
speak. I have to ask, is the progress in science or in modern lan- 
guages relatively greater under the conditions I name? My argu- 
ment is simply this, that limited as the knowledge of the classics 
possessed by the boy at the close of his school life, or even as a 
youth in leaving the university, the study of them is the safest 
ordeal to follow in the formation of mind and character. 

The rebound against this theory is attributable to the excessive 
and almost exclusive teaching of these languages in vogue until 
the first twenty years of this century. They formed the main basis 
of education; indeed little else was taught. What was known as 
"cyphering" was taught after Walker's Arithmetic. We are told 
by lord Sherbrooke that the mathematical master at Winchester 
stopped at the fourth book of Euclid, and this was after 1825. Eng- 
lish grammar was not looked upon as an essential ; modern history 
obtained but scant attention; French a moderate amount of study; 
German at that date was in the matter of education an unknown 



12 

tongue. Not the slightest attention was given to science. Possibly 
there were occasional lectures on astronomy and on electricity, in 
the former with a workable orrery, in the latter, the experiments 
made were the chief feature. Latin and Greek were alone con- 
sidered paramount. So much so, that in an essay written in 1811, 
Sydney Smith complained that it was the custom to bring up the 
first young men of the country as if they were all to keep grammar 
schools in little country towns; and that a nobleman, upon whose 
knowledge and liberality the honour and welfare of his country 
may depend, is diligently worried for half his life with longs and 
shorts. No man was considered fit for a bishop who was not 
learned in Aristophanes; indeed we owe some of the best editions 
of classics to clergymen looking for preferment. 

The teaching is now in the opposite direction. Horace tells us 
that when foolish people avoid one vice they run to the opposite 
extreme. Dum vitant stulti vitia in contraria currunt. Thus the 
exclusive study of science or modern languages is advocated and 
any attention given to the classics is pronounced to be a waste of 
time. A powerful advocate of this theory was one of the most dis- 
tinguished men of modern times, the late Robert Lowe, Viscount 
Sherbrooke, a scholar of rare gifts and multiplied attainments. 
From his recognized classical knowledge and his opposition to the 
study, there arose the mot that he was the Phillippe Egalite of this 
branch of learning. Of a respectable family in the squirearchy of 
Notts, under the great physical disadvantage of imperfect sight, 
he worked his way up to the first rank in political life, having been 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. He numbered among his friends the 
first public men and the first scholars in England. It may interest 
those who do me the favour to listen to me, that he was an intimate 
friend of Sir Edmund Head, and visited him w r hen Governor- 
General, in Toronto in 1856. 'Sir Edmund then consulted him on 
the selection of the seat of government for the Province of Canada, 
as then constituted, and he is accredited with having contributed 
to the recommendation of Ottawa as the capital. We also read of 
him in the biography by Mr. Patchet Martin, that his influence to 
some extent led to the withdrawal of the British garrisons from 
Canada. He said in the House of Commons, " In my opinion 
nothing could be so strong or so incentive in America to war with 
this country as the notion that they could catch a small English 
army and lead it away in triumph. Never mind, if it were thirty 



13 

to one it would be all the same; the popularity that such a capture 
would confer upon the successful general or President of the 
period would be irresistible." [Vol. II. p. 2M.] 

Mr. Lowe was one of those elaborately educated Englishmen 
who are entirely without acquaintance with the history of Canada, 
some tell us we have no history, or even of the continent, until 
the United States became a power in modern international rela- 
tions. He knew nothing of the revolutionary w r ar of a century back, 
or he would have more correctly judged the two great disasters ex- 
perienced by the British, and there were two only, the surrender 
of Burgoyne at Saratoga and of Cornwallis at Yorktown; both per- 
fectly explicable. They were, in the first place, caused by the med- 
dling, cowardly, incapable Lord George Germain, typical of all that 
is insolent to an official subordinate, and of extreme sycophancy 
to the King. He was then Secretary of the Colonies, and he threw 
the blight of his presence on all brought in contact with him. The 
incompetence of Burgoyne, joined to the abandonment of him by 
Germain, led to his surrender. It was possible for him to have 
retreated with his army in safety, but to spare himself the disgrace 
of that reverse he strove to establish that he had been ordered to 
execute what was in itself impossible. It was Germain's corre- 
spondence with Cornwallis which led to his self-assertion, his dis- 
regard of orders, and his bad generalship that caused his defeat: 
and we must not set out of view the want of enterprise, courage 
and conduct of the British admiral. Mr. Lowe evidently knew 
nothing of the U. E. Loyalists who settled Upper Canada, and their 
descendants; and he had no thought of the war of 1812, and its 
stirring memories, which appeal so strongly to every Canadian 
heart. You, who are here present, cannot fail to remember that 
within the last few months a powerful appeal has been made to this 
sentiment, and that the whole country was stirred to the heart's 
core, to a burst of feeling by what could only be construed as an 
appeal to their sense of duty and of patriotism. Let us fervently 
pray it may pass away. We cannot be insensible to the danger of 
our position, but there is the common resolve, if the exigency so 
exact, we must meet it as men. I am not here to discuss this point, 
but I feel bound to protest against the opinion of Lord Sherbrooke 
as irrational and unfounded. 

I fully recognize the great qualities that distinguished Lord 
Sherbrooke. Few public men have exceeded him in ability, in 
honesty of principle, in patriotism, courage and tenacity of purpose 1 . 
It is difficult to reconcile his utterances with his attainments, for 
all who follow his career must recognize how much he owed to the 
training he received. Jowett, the celebrated master of Baliol, de- 
dicated to him his translation of Thucydides. In doin^ so he <le- 



14 

scribed Lowe as one of tbe best Greek scholars in England, whose 
genuine love of ancient classical literature, though sometimes dis- 
sembled, is as well known to his friends as the kindness of his heart 
and the charm of his conversation. I can but cursorily allude to the 
arguments advanced by him. At Glasgow he dwelt upon the 
neglect of other and more valuable studies, and one of his epigram- 
matic sayings was that the English universities had loaded the dice 
in favour of the dead languages. At the dinner of the Institution 
of Civil Engineers in 1872 he laughed at the battle of Marathon as 
a small affair, not calling for any particular criticism, for 192 were 
only killed on the side of the victors. Mr. Lowe could not but 
know on that day was decided whether or not the dawning light of 
intellect should be stamped out, and the rule of an irresponsible 
tyrant be affirmed. Until Marathon the name of the Mede was a 
terror to the Greeks. "The Athenians, who are they? " asked the 
great king. The answer was given on the plain of Marathon when 
the principles of civilization and liberty were first established. 

There was truth in Mr. Lowe's criticism as to the excessive 
attention given to classics. But it may be said that he rather 
changed the direction of a youth's studies without conferring 
benefit on his mind and thought. It is difficult to recognize that 
lie advanced the true purport of education, the development of tlie 
reasoning powers, by his advocacy of confining the attention of the 
boy to modern languages and the sciences. Every earnest student 
of a modern language not his own, early discovers that he must 
give to it exclusive attention. Let me ask you, of what value in 
the practical duties of life is superficial knowledge of any kind? 
But even a little Latin is of use in the study of French. If you 
have a fair knowledge of both, and it is your fate to visit Italy, you 
will be surprised at the facility with which you will pick up the 
language for everyday conventional use. I do not speak of literary 
proficiency of the language, as any of you will soon discover, if 
placed in a position to observe the distinction. German is another 
matter. It is a study entirely apart. Many may conceive that 
being cognate with English his mother tongue will aid him. It is 
quite the reverse. The analogies between the two languages re- 
quire advanced knowledge to perceive. I may adduce a familiar 
example. Our gable, the wall closing at an angu'ar point, is the 
word f/dWi a fork. It conveys the same idea; here the relation- 
ship stops. German is a language demanding the closest applica- 
tion. Thus, I contend that the study of these languages and the 
pursuit of science, however laudable in themselves and elevating 
in themselves, can only be considered as advanced studies for the 
hiirlier education, when the character is formed and fitted to re- 
ceive them. 



Lowe himself to the last dung to the love of classics, and they 
never ceased to furnish illustrations in his argument There is a 
comic incident connected with the tax, which as Chancellor of the 
Exchequer he introduced,Hwx on the manufacture of matches. It 
obtained favour in the House of Commons, and in the present day 
writers of eminence on political economy justify it. The manufac- 
turers opposed to the tax, as manufacturers are in such circum- 
stances, had a card to play which they did not neglect. They 
started up all the young girls engaged in the manufacture and in 
the sale, by the dread of losing their means of livelihood, and in- 
duced them to form themselves in a procession with banners and 
music, and proceed to the House of Commons, noisily to protest 
against the tax being enforced. The unthinking public accepted 
the trick as a good demonstration against an unjust imposition. 
The proposition at the time, and since that date, has been brought 
forward in a disparaging spirit to Lowe's ability, and in a minor 
way caused him annoyance. A strange feature of the case was 
that the stamp required by law bore a Latin motto, Ex luce lucel- 
liim, which may be translated, " A little profit out of light." 

In a number of Punch at the time Mr. Lowe's statue was given 
placed on a match-box, with the distich: 

Ex luce lucellum, we all of us know, 

But if Lucy can't sell them, what then, Mr, Lowe ? 

I have felt it my duty to introduce Mr. Lowe's name, as from 
his deservedly high reputation no one opposed to classical training 
has obtained greater countenance or weight. 

It remains for me briefly to summarize the advantages we may 
hope to confer by a judicious system of education. Primarily we 
escape the penalties entailed upon ignorance, and we avoid the 
errors it is too often the lot of the uneducated to commit. The 
manners of youth become more subdued and gentle. It is the 
effort to lead to the abandonment of prejudice, to inculcate habits 
of self-respect and self-reliance, and to endow manhood with the 
capacity of living respectably in the condition assigned to us, and 
of finding honest resources in leisure: generally of forming the 
character according to the precepts of truth, honour and unselfish- 
ness. I know no better detail of this aspiration than what we are 
taught in the church catechism, which doubtless you all know, but it 
will not harm any of us to hear these noble words. We are there told 
t ) " love our neighbours as ourselves, to hurt nobody by word or 
deed, to be true and just in all our dealings, to bear no malice nor 
"hatred in our hearts, to keep our hands from piddii" and stealing, 



16 

and our tongues from evil speaking, lying and slandering; to keep 
our bodies in temperance, soberness and chastity, not to covet or 
desirv other men's goods, but to learn and labour truly to get our 
own living, and to do our duty in that state of life unto which it 
shall please God to call us." 

Naturally we look forward that our children will be well ac- 
quainted with the history of their own country, with a general 
knowledge of the motherland, and of the great Empire to which we 
have the happiness to belong. We hope to make them intelligent 
human beings, useful members of society, to possess principle to 
withstand temptation, and integrity to rise above the seductions 
which everywhere present themselves. I may be told that these 
are accepted moral truths. Yes, but while teaching the i\ quire- 
ments enforced by our daily life according to our duties and sta- 
tion, surely we ought not to omit to impart the moral force and the 
dignity of character by which the temptations to which every 
human being is subjected can be met and mastered. 

There is a phrase of the people worthy of remembrance, that 
" Life is not all beer and skittles." It is a truth we learn at an 
early date. We find how the most prosperous career is chequered 
by many disappointments; that the most favourable, equally with 
the least attractive, condition entails serious and exacting duties, 
and that failure in their observance leads to a day of reckoning, 
certain and sure, be it late or early. We are taught how much of 
our fate lies in our own hands; that when dark days come upon 
UH we have to be true to our purpose, and that we slacken neither 
our perseverance nor our hope. We cannot be insensible to the 
fact that there is much good and evil fortune by which our desti- 
nies are shaped, but we do not better our condition by stopping on 
the roadside to weep over a reverse. 

I trust my imperfectly expressed remarks have not tired you. 
I have to thank you for the attention you have been good enough 
to give in listening to me. Even if, as Saint Paul says, you have 
had need of patience, I have striven not to be wearisome. Permit 
me in my last words to repeat Juvenal's celebrated lines from the 
Tenth Satire: 

" The on<> certain path to a life of peace is through the observ- 
ance of virtue. Oh, fortune! if prudence guide us, thou hast no 
divinity, but we make thee a goddess and place thee in heaven." 

Nullum numen habes si sit prudentia sed te, 
Nos facimus, Fortuna, Deam, caeloque locamus. 



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